Sabrina Gordon, Business Reporter
Mailpac Express, in an effort to augment its online shopping operations, announced on Monday that it will be offering financing for all online purchases through its newly launched M-Card.
"It is to address the tightening budget of consumers as well as the increase in duty rates which has made it a bit more expensive to shop in and out of Jamaica," said Khary Robinson, managing partner for Norbrook Caribbean Investment Company.
The card is available free of cost to members, but financing charges will vary from 10 per cent to 45 per cent, depending on the transaction, Robinson told Wednesday Business.
MailPac was acquired by Norbrook Caribbean in 2010 and has since expanded by way of acquisition, and now operates from 14 locations that employ some 130 persons.
It also serves some 55,000 customers, according to Robinson.
He said the courier company's clientęle had seen net growth last year, in a pushback on queries on whether customer attrition and pricing was a factor in the card's launch.
Robinson defended MailPac's pricing, saying that it accounts for a fifth of the price that members pay for the goods they buy.
He acknowledged that customers may have left for "the promise of better or cheaper service elsewhere", but said they usually return to MailPac because "those promises were not fulfilled".
Robinson told Wednesday Business that the company's membership is growing at 25 per cent year over year, and that business overall is up by 55 per cent so far in 2012.
"Our rates are the same as most of the other reputable providers and in many cases cheaper. The issue that we have always had is that when people pay for their items at MailPac, which includes shipping and duty, they see the entire charge as a MailPac charge, even though MailPac's charges are usually less than 20 per cent of the total and government gets the rest," said Robinson.
"So when the government increased duties, given that we service 80 per cent of the market, the general perception was that MailPac charges went up," he said.
The M-Card is MailPac's first foray into financing.
Robinson says the new product will allow the courier company to reach the untapped market of consumers who are wary of shopping online because of tight budgets.
The product pairs well, the company said, with another of its services, DealBug — an online retail platform that offers landed prices, that is, a final price which includes all related charges such as shipping and duty associated with any item being purchased on the internet.
"With DealBug, consumers can now shop at one place and pay one low price to get the online product they want. With the M-Card, they can also finance that cost over 36 months," said Shannon McClure, a MailPac executive and manager for the retail platform.